Saturday, May 30, 2009

May Prompt 005: Meet One Person? /Creative Muses

"Why do you keep asking me things like that?" Luka glanced at Abby over the rim of the beer he was drinking.

"Because I'm trying to find out more about you, now, answer the question. If you could meet any person in the world, dead or alive, who would you want it to be?" As she finished, Abby picked a peanut out of the bowl on the bar and tossed it at him.

"Hey, don't throw things." Luka lifted a hand, deflecting it before it made contact, but, not before Abby had another at the ready.

"Are you going to answer the question then? I've got a whole bowl, I can do this all night." As if to prove her point, the small brunette cocked her wrist, intending to make good on the threat.

"Last chance."

"You're not going to know who it is." As he spoke, Luka kept his hand up, ready to block again if needed.

"You're stalling." She flexed her fingers for the throw, sure he was going to force her to make good on her threat afterall.

"Okay, okay, Tin Ujević. Satisfied." Luka kept his hand up just in case Abby decided to throw the peanut anyway.

"Who?" Unable to register anything but confusion at his answer, Abby automatically released the weapon and let it fall back into the bowl.

"Tin Ujević, he's considered to be one of the greatest Croatian poets of all time, and I told you that you wouldn't know who he was." Luka reached for his beer not that the threat of attack had passed.

"A poet? A poet. Since when have you been into poetry?" Abby swept her hair from her face as she tried to reconcile herself with his answer.

"Since, I don't know, longer than I can remember."

"Do you have any of his poetry?" Abby found her curiosity growing as this new side of Luka was revealed.

"Yeah, I do."

"Will you share it with me?"

"It's not in English."

"That doesn't matter, you can read them to me." Abby laid her hand on his as she made the request.

"I want to hear them the way you do. Luka, I want you to share them with me."

Two poems for you to enjoy...

Zelenu granu by Tin Ujević

And Uhapsen u magli by Tin Ujević

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May Prompt 006: Shadows / Artistic License

Keep to the shadows...

It was a mantra he forced himself to repeat anytime he left the apartment. In the early days it had been done simply as a reminder to himself.

Keep to the shadows...

The snipers were becoming more and more prevalent, their aim far deadlier. It didn't seem to matter who their targets were, the elderly woman queuing for a loaf of bread, the man with his child filling water jugs at the City spigot. Anyone was a ready target.

It's easy before dawn, at dusk, even into the night, though risk is still there, the darkness holds safety. Or so we like to trick ourselves into believing, in reality there is no safety in our lives anymore. It's with full daylight that the true danger arrives though, but, what can we do? We have to feed our families, we have to have water, for some, like me, there is still work that must be done and so we risk our lives in the world we no longer know.

What choice do we have? Do we become hermits, hiding away in the darkness of our apartments with no heat, no electricity, no running water until necessity forces us to venture beyond those walls? This is our world now, the world we have bequeathed to our children, a world of fear and certain death unless we pray for God's protection, and keep to the shadows...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Prompt 2009.18.2. What meals or food do you make really well?/ Realm of the Muse

Now that we're settled in Boston, I find I'm spending more time in the kitchen than I ever did in Chicago. I enjoy it, I not only find it a great way to relax, but, it also gives me a chance to cook the foods I grew up with. I think being back in Croatia for as long as I was while my father was ill, and reconnecting with the importance of those family mealtimes made me realize that I wanted to share that with Abby and Joe once I was home.

I look at the comfort I find in the foods I grew up with, the thick soups and stews with their fresh baked croutons, the goulash and seafood, and yes, even the pastries, and I want that for my son. In fact, I'm cooking today, and as the smell of the simmering broth fills the whole house, all I have to do is close my eyes to find myself transported back to my mama's kitchen. I want my son to have these same memories, to enjoy the food as much as I do, so, I give him this gift as it was given to me, out of love.

Čobanac sa žličnjacima
Shepherd's Goulash


300g. (11 oz.) veal
300g. (11 oz.) pork
6 tablespoons oil
200 g. (7 oz.) onions
100g. (4 oz,) carrots
50g. (2. oz) parsley root
1 clove garlic
ground sweet red pepper (to taste)
salt and pepper
1 chili pepper
1 tablespoon ajvar ( a piquant, spicy and delicious mixture of round, red, sweet peppers (known locally as tomato peppers), aubergines, and chili peppers, first baked, then peeled, minced and cooked to a thick consistency).
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon smetana
half a litre (20 fl. oz.) white wine
1 tablespoon Vegeta

Foer Dumplings:
350 g. (12 oz.) flour
1 egg

Chop the onion. Grate the carrots and parsley root. Wash and dice the meat. Chop the garlic.
Heat the oil and lightly fry the onion, add the carrot and parsley root and braise for a while. Then add the meat and spice it with chili (or cayenne) pepper, red pepper and salt. Add a little hot water, bay leaf, Vegeta and allow to simmer gently, adding further water as required.

When the meat is half cooked, add the dumplings, garlic, and ground pepper. Finally, stir in the ajvar, wine and smetana.

Mix the egg, salt and flour with sufficient water to produce a thick dough. Work the dough by beating it against the side of the mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until it becomes smooth and elastic and peels easily away from the spoon. Spoon pieces of prepared dough into a larger saucepan of salted boiling water. Cook for about 15 minutes, remove the dumplings and drain them.

Prompt 48: 4. Love is what you've been through with somebody- James Thurber/On The Couch

From the time I was a young child I remember sitting and listening as people told stories of finding that one person who they knew was meant for them. From my parents, to my grandparents, to their friends, everyone had a story, if not of finding their own love, than of someone they knew who had. I don't know if I really gave them anymore thought than all of the rest of the stories I heard through my childhood until that moment that I first saw Danijela.

From my very first glimpse of her I knew that she was the one I wanted to spend my life with and nothing anyone could say could sway me. Because of our ages, Danijela was just 16 when we met, we waited two years to marry and during that time we made so many plans for our future. I don't think two years could have moved any slower than those two did, and it certainly wasn't helped by our being separated because while Danijela was finishing school, I was away fulfilling my military obligations.

We married when Danijela turned 18, and nine months later we welcomed our daughter, Jasna into our lives. If I thought I had loved my wife before, it was nothing compared to what I felt toward her once she began to carry that life inside of her, than later gave birth. Can anything be as beautiful as a mother and her child. I could have spent hours just watching them together, envying her that closeness gained with our daughter as she breastfed her. It would deepen still further with the birth three years later of our son.

I'll never know why our love was tested in the ways that it was. I'll never know why the life that seemed so perfect from it's start would end so suddenly, but, it did. I do know though that the love I felt for Danijela, the love I still feel for her will always be with me. It took me a long time to understand that it's okay for me to keep loving her. It took me a long time to understand that there was room in my heart for someone besides Danijela, and once I realized that I not only loved her even more, but, I could at long last move on.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Prompt 64.5 Reminder Picture/ Couples Therapy

Find a picture of something that reminds you of your partner and explain why.

It was our first date, we went to a bar for a drink, and...there was this foosball table there. I'd never played before, and while she denys it, I still say she cheated. I'd like to say it was the perfect first date, but it wasn't, things happened that neither of us could have expected, things that could well have ended things for us even before they had begun.

I'm not saying the date, date part was bad, well, other than the fact that she cheats at foosball, we had a good time. We drank a little, talked about nothing that meant anything, had something to eat, and we enjoyed each other's company. Oh, yeah, and I kissed her. We had a good time. When it came time to leave we decided to walk along the river, that's when things fell apart.

If I could go back now and undo that decision, I'd go it in an instant. No one wants to believe they hold that kind of rage inside of them, but, even worse than it being exposed, is having someone else witness it. You see, I killed someone that night. I didn't mean for it to happen, I just reacted, and as a result a man died. Abby could have walked away, turned her back on me forever, I wouldn't have blamed her if she did. Who wants to be with someone capable of such violence? I even tried to push her away that night, I was disgusted with myself and disgusted by what I'd done. Yes, the man had tried to mug us, but, he didn't deserve to die for that.

Abby didn't give up on me though, and while things didn't work out for us then, we eventually found our way back to each other. It took time, and we both went through a lot of changes to get to where we are, but, we have a beautiful son now, and we're happy, and you can't ask for more than that.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Prompt 282: Cremation or burial? Talk about funeral arrangements./TM

This is something Abby and I have talked about quite a bit, maybe because of my past, but, mainly because I felt she deserved to know that this was something I feel quite strongly about. For a long time I felt that my life had ended with the death of my wife Danijela, and our two young children in that small apartment in Vukovar. When their caskets were lowered into the ground, I couldn't shake my feelings of guilt over having failed them, and in that moment, had I been given the choice of joining them, I would have done so willingly. Despite the number of years that have passed since those burials, I know, and Abby understands, that my place belongs beside my first family, and so, when my time comes, she and Joe will take me home to Croatia and bury me there in that Vukovar cemetery. It's my hope, that in their own time, that they might too join me, but, that is a decision that will be theirs to make and not one I can make for them.

Because I was raised Catholic, and that faith was so much a part of my life with Danijela, and still is important to my family, I've already expressed my desire for a Catholic funeral and burial. I think it's a way too I can honor Bishop Stewart's memory, and thank him again for opening the door that allowed me to re-find my faith after many years away. On that day, when my body is once more reunited with those of my family, and my spirit rises to Heaven, I have no doubt that Danijela, Jasna, and Marko will be there waiting to greet me, just as I one day will be there to greet Abby and Joe when their time comes.

Graphic by Jana